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  RAIL NEWS SNIPPETS   Issue 124 - 1st October 2003  
  News from the East Anglian Branch of Railfuture   Edited by Martin Thorne and Jerry Alderson  

The branch meeting in Norwich on 20th September had a presentation by Ingo Wagenecht, one of the Green Party's Eastern Region European election candidates, and also a PowerPoint presentation about CAST.IRON.

Another "Meet The Managers Forum" is being held on Wednesday 8th October 2003 from 16:00-18:30 beside the information desk on the Liverpool Street Station concourse, in front of Platforms 5 and 6. This offers travellers a chance to meet senior people from the Wagn teams and Network Rail.

CAST.IRON is holding a members' meeting (i.e. not public) on Thursday 2nd October 2003 at Cambridge Regional College, Kings Hedges Road in room C143 from 7pm. Anyone wishing to join may do so on arrival and take full part in the meeting.

The live Jonathan Dimbleby Programme on Sunday 5th October will be featuring the Conservative Party. Michael Howard MP will be representing them, and answering questions about their policies on subjects such as tax and transport. If anyone wants to take part, and perhaps challenge the Tories on their pro-road (anti-rail/pro-guided bus?) policies, please contact Elisabeth on 0207 2613784.

Railfuture members should return the counterfoils on the Annual Draw Tickets to Edgar Locke, 3 Langton Court, Langton Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN14 7BZ by 29th October 2003. The draw for prizes up to £500 will take place at the Railfuture Rail User Conference on Saturday 1st November 2003 at Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD. Forms for this event will be included with Railwatch 97, which should arrive in the first week of October.


ST.IVES LINE

Cambridge And St.Ives Railway Organisation (CAST.IRON) gains more publicity
CAST.IRON has obtained permission from Cambridge City Council to have a stall outside the Guildhall for four Saturdays starting 27th September for the purposes of leaflet distribution, creating awareness, petition, etc. This should not be seen as proof that the city council supports CAST.IRON, although there is considerable anti-busway feeling within it.

On Monday 29th September there was a press photo opportunity inside the Co-Operative Bank when chairman Tim Phillips paid in more than 300 cheques from members. This triggered another interview on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire at 8.25am that morning.

Following a two-page feature on the guided bus in the Cambridge Evening News, CAST.IRON asked for and got a similar two-page feature, which appeared in the Tuesday 30th September edition.

CAST.IRON is now working on a detailed business case, which will be based on accurate recent costs, such as Wensleydale Railway having built two stations to full Network Rail standards in four weeks for £100,000 each.

The case for rail was further heightened when Cambridge free newspaper "Town Crier" featured a front-page interview with guided bus inventor Arthur Henderson, who said that the guided bus was not suitable for the rail corridor and called for the railway to be reopened.
CAST.IRON web-site: http://www.castiron.org.uk.

Cambridge And St.Ives Railway Organisation meets Cambs County Council to exchange views
On 17th September the three-strong CAST.IRON Executive ('the Triumvirate') met the guided busway project director and a project manager of Cambridgeshire County Council. This allowed CAST.IRON to fully understand the arguments that the County would be using to convince members to vote in favour of a TWA and their evidence at the inevitable public inquiry. The County asked to meet CAST.IRON in order to perform their duty in attempting to resolve all objections from potential opponents of the scheme.

Cambridge And St.Ives Railway Organisation wins over Cambridge member of parliament
On 24th September CAST.IRON had a meeting fixed with Anne Campbell in Cambridge to discuss the proposed railway reopening. CAST.IRON invited a supportive senior director from a train operating company to help convince the Cambridge M.P. that rail services were both viable and preferable to guided bus.

Although Anne Campbell is not (yet) supporting CAST.IRON, she did reply to constituents within 45 minutes of the meeting saying: "Following a number of representations I have changed my view on the guided bus. I am not sure that the guided bus proposals as they stand will meet the transport needs of the area. Furthermore I am also concerned that with a guided bus running along the old Cambridge-St.Ives railway line, this important transport corridor will be lost to rail for ever. I do not feel that the needs [for] mass transit in and around Cambridge should allow us to use up this precious corridor for a means of transport which could just as well use the road.".

She continued: "Following the CHUMMS report I felt that although rail transport was my preferred solution, it was made clear that there would be insufficient interest by rail companies in developing the line to meet transport needs. However, the original proposal for SuperCam has been withdrawn because of the difficulty of getting them into the City Centre. The County Council has also reneged on the proposal for work place parking levies, which would have done a great deal to discourage motorists from using their cars. They have also agreed to build an extra 6,000 houses at Oakington, which will vastly increase the number of passenger journeys along the A14 corridor. I am no longer convinced that these changed proposals will meet the identified need."

Guided buses may cause congestion in Huntingdon according to councillors
A news article on the Cambridge Evening News on 1st October claims that traffic will be gridlocked at a roundabout near the A141-A1123 near Huntingdon, according to Coun Mike Simpson, a cabinet member on Huntingdonshire District Council. Traffic will build up if a section of Old Houghton Road, which has been closed for years, is reopened as a special link for westbound buses.
CEN news article: http://w3.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/story.asp?storyid=38383.


RAIL SERVICES

Anglia Railways celebrates Norwich-Cambridge service reaching half a million passengers
To celebrate reaching the half million mark on the Cambridge-Norwich service. Anglia Railways gave cakes and champagne to passengers on one train, which also had a three-piece band on board. Jonathan Denby, Corporate Affairs directory said: "The impression we have had throughout the first year is that everyone is pleased with the service. The passenger numbers are 30 higher than anticipated, which is good news because it demonstrates that some of the cross country routes really work."

Anglia Railways late night Bittern services reaches 5,000th passenger since May
Anglia is also celebrating the success of its new evening services on the Bittern Line. It recorded its 5,000th passenger on the 19:56/22:45 Norwich to Sheringham and 21:03/23:47 return trains, within just four months of their introduction. These services, which are funded by the East of England Development Agency, Norfolk County Council and the Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership, will continue to run until 26th May 2004, and if numbers continue to increase, are likely to be made permanent.
Anglia press release: http://www.angliarailways.co.uk/latest-information/news-detail.asp?id=479.


STATIONS

SRA announces upgrades to stations
Somewhat late news, but several stations in the branch area will receive improvements in the next two years. The 68 stations nationwide, where the SRA is paying for improvements, include: Audley End, Bishops Stortford, Clacton On Sea, Colchester, Colchester Town, Downham Market, Elsenham, Hockley, Ingatestone, Manningtree, Marks Tey, Newport (Essex), Shelford, Stansted Mountfitchet and Whittlesford. Facilities such as passenger information systems, CCTV, waiting rooms/shelters and toilets will be installed.

In October 2000 nearly a thousand stations were proposed for upgrades, but the list has been reduced to just those with a substantial number of passengers. Stations taken off the list include Great Yarmouth, where better toilets and a passenger shelter had been planned.
Station list: http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/filestore/bluedocs/178.pdf.

Three Anglia stations gain 'secure station' status
Ipswich, Diss and Stowmarket stations have been awarded 'Secure Station' accreditation. This is the national scheme that recognises standards in station design, management, security and passenger safety.
Anglia press release: http://www.angliarailways.co.uk/latest-information/news-detail.asp?id=476.


ROAD SCHEMES

Cambridge Futures 2 devises tunnels through and around Cambridge to serve buses and cars - nothing for rail
On Thursday 25th September fantastical schemes to build a mile-and-a-half long tunnel through Cambridge for guided buses and an orbital tunnel around Cambridge - to protect the countryside - were announced by the intellectual Cambridge Futures 2 group. It has assumed that the Cambridge Structure Plan, which includes guided buses, would go ahead and therefore devised other guided busway routes to make a semi-complete network. A tunnel through Cambridge would supposedly carry diesel-emitting buses, but the tunnel would not extend to the St.Ives line, so guided buses would still have to navigate through congested roads. Another tunnel was planned to allow cars to orbit Cambridge. Apparently nearly all car drivers in Cambridge would switch to buses in order to save a few minutes and to avoid London-style congestion charging.

Apart from additional capacity at Cambridge Central station, and the new Chesterton Interchange, rail played no part at all, not even additional stations on operational railway lines. No consideration was given to people in Cambridge who might want to travel to places like Peterborough, or those making the opposite journey.


RAIL INCIDENTS

First and GB Railways launch joint care team for major incidents
One of the first visible signs of the takeover of GB Railways by First Group has seen the creation of a joint care team to serve passengers in the event of a major incident on any of the routes along which the companies operate. This is part of an ATOC initiative to create a team of fully trained people within each TOC who would be entirely focused on helping passengers and their families if a rail accident occurs.
Anglia press release: http://www.angliarailways.co.uk/latest-information/news-detail.asp?id=482.


ROLLING STOCK

FGE's new Class 360 EMUs run non-stop between Ipswich and Liverpool Street
FGE have been running their new class 360's non-stop between Ipswich and London. On 26th September, Railfuture member Tony Albert was on board and wrote: "the non-stop run was 54 minutes. The train seemed to be good; track awful. Nice ambience, good seats, pity about the leg space under the window. The suspension possibly needs to absorb more of the track damage."


RAIL REOPENINGS

New group founded to run weekend tourist trains on the March-Wisbech line
A new organisation, the Wisbech and March Railway Trust, is trying to reopen the rail line from Wisbech to March. Their proposal is to run a tourist train on the line at weekends, bank holidays, etc. They have had a good response from the local council and the public.


RAIL COMPANIES

Fewer than required 90% of GB Railways PLC shareholders accept First Group offer
GB Railways PLC has effectively been a subsidiary of First Group for several weeks. Over 80% of shareholders have sold their shares to First. However, this is fewer that the 90% required for the company to compulsorily buy their shares. Therefore GB Railways will be holding an AGM (probably in October), at which remaining shareholders may attend.

Shareholders are guaranteed 250p per share, plus another 200p if First/GB win the Greater Anglia franchise and 50p more for the Northern franchise. Preferred bidders will be announced in December 2003 and spring 2004 respectively.


RAIL FREIGHT

Government minister breaks ranks to criticise Royal Mail for axing mail trains
Lord Whitty, the environment minister, has condemned the Royal Mail's decision to axe all mail trains, which sees the end of trains from London to Scotland and the West Country in early October. In a letter RMT rail union, leaked to The Guardian newspaper, Lord Whitty wrote: "I personally and this department also have grave concerns about the Royal Mail decision, which seems to be heading in the opposite direction from the aim of a more balanced, environmentally friendly and integrated transport system.". He said it is "regrettable" that "we have no aegis in this matter", after the government gave greater commercial freedom to Royal Mail's management in March 2001.


CAR COSTS

Rail travel is usually much cheaper than by car when full costs of car ownership are taken into account
It has recently been estimated that the average cost of running a car is £103.58 per week based on an average mileage of 12,000 miles. The costs, which average 45 pence per mile, were:
* Petrol £18.62
* Finance (the average weekly cost of a personal loan to buy a car) £13.27
* Depreciation £41.76
* Insurance £8.04 (although 5% of cars are uninsured!)
* Servicing and Repairs £17.14
* Road tax £2.48
* Breakdown and recovery £2.27

Worse still, BMW 7 series costs £322.91 a week! Rail fares can be substantially cheaper, and a car costs its owner money every day whether it is used or not.


PRESERVED RAILWAYS

Study to see if North Norfolk Railway extensions can be done for reduced cost
The last engineering report on the proposed Norfolk Orbital Railway reckoned it would cost in the region of £4.8m to re-instate the level crossing between the Bittern Line and the North Norfolk Railway. It also estimated another £3m to lay track from the NNR's Holt station to the town. The Norfolk Orbital's directors plan to commission another study, from Devon-based RMS Locotech, to see whether the lines could be built for a much lower figure.

The Bittern Line Partnership has have agreed to pay £2,500 towards the new study, which it is hoped will identify a way of reinstating the level crossing for as little as £1 milllion.


WEB SITES

Duffield-Wirksworth railway line has web-site to promote its use by infrastructure companies
WyvernRail plc has launched http://www.MyTestTrack.com to promote its 8.5 mile line between Duffield and Wirksworth (in Derbyshire) for use by infrastructure companies to perform static and low-speed testing of plant and equipment at short notice. The line has already been used by engineering companies to test equipment and train personnel.

The web-site will "enable companies to book a stretch of line at short notice and at a cost that wonít break the bank." said Phil Tarry, who is leading MyTestTrack.comís launch within the rail industry. "Engineering firms often struggle to find someone who is willing to accept responsibility for a stretch of line which, although part of the national network, may be out of regular use and suitable for vehicle testing. When they do find someone who returns their calls, they have to give at least twelve weeks notice just to book a possession." he added.

A colour brochure describing MyTestTrack.comís offering can be downloaded direct from http://www.MyTestTrack.com/MyTestTrack.pdf.

 
 
 


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01-OCT-2003